Presentation on theme: " The answer is yes but not necessarily by the same ways that produced the old church. Many old churches should consider making changes to revitalize,"— Presentation transcript:
The answer is yes but not necessarily by the same ways that produced the old church. Many old churches should consider making changes to revitalize, reinvigorate and renew those churches, while at the same time, helping them reach new people and peoples.
To reach new people in today’s world, the church must go where the people are; discover and minister to their needs; and share the gospel when they ask, “Why have you ministered to us?”
Two Negative Factors Two factors- comfort and complacency- hinder outreach interests and efforts in many old churches.
Comfort can be translated in several ways. Wealth may produce comfort. Wealth need not be a million dollars; sufficient money to meet all needs without having to really sacrifice can make us feel at ease.
Numbers may produce comfort. When we have enough people to maintain the church programs week by week, we feel comfortable. When the size of a Sunday School class fits the room or the congregation has the feel of a well-filled house, we can get comfortable.
Property can produce comfort. When a church has sufficient property to meet perceived needs, comfort may result- especially if the property is paid for.
Comfort tends to breed complacency in any church- old or new. Complacency causes folks to think, Nothing is wrong with us just like we are. One may hear: “We’ve been right here in this same place for more than 100 years. We’ve done all right with everything that has come up so far!” Or “Everybody around here knows where we are. They know how we do things around here. They know they are welcome as long as they want to come and don’t try to mess things up or cause trouble!”
Three actions must take place if an old church wants to break out of its comfort and complacency. To reach the new people of today’s world, the old church must reflect on its traditions, analyze its community, and evaluate its ministry.
Reflect on Traditions Matthew 15:1-20 records a discussion Jesus had with the scribes and Pharisees about traditions. They asked Jesus why He allowed His disciples to violate Jewish traditions by eating without washing their hands.
In response, Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees why they had allowed their traditions to override God’s commandments. He said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (v.9)
The people of Jesus’ day were like us. They had their own traditions which has developed so slowly within their cultures that they probably never knew when they began substituting traditions to override God’s commandments. He said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (v.9).
The people of Jesus’ day were like us. They had their own traditions which has developed so slowly within their cultures that they probably never knew when they began substituting traditions for the laws of God.
Most churches in our world today are pockets of culture. Culture nurtures traditions, and traditions become part and parcel with culture. The church that wants to reach new people today should ask three questions regarding its traditions.
Is the tradition really Bible-based? Is the tradition something someone started but no one has ever thought about stopping? Is the tradition in question designed to reach and keep new, unchurched people? The church that wants to reach new people should change, adjust, or discontinue any tradition that is not Bible based or will not reach new people.
Analyze the Church Community Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 9;19-23 how he tried to become aware of and relate to the people he was trying to reach with the gospel. He said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (v.22).
Paul emphasized building relationships with the unreached. I believe most church members today are acquainted primarily with those who assemble inside the church building. They do not know large numbers of unchurched people in their community.
I recently preached in a small church in a small town. Several hundred people and a multitude of children lived in a four-block area surrounding the church building. Young families with children noticeably were missing from the church. Those present were asked to tell where they lived. Only one person lived within the four-block area! The entire church, except for this one person, was composed of nonresidents!
The church that wants to reach new people in today’s world must discover its identity with fresh awareness and get acquainted with the community.
Searching questions that should be answered: Who are the people in the church? Where did they come from and where do they come from now? Why do they come to this church? What keeps them coming?
Searching questions that should be answered: Who are those outside the church? Where did they come from? Why did they come to this community? Where do they live? Where do they work? What are their needs? Why don’t they come to church? What would encourage them to come?
The church that wants to reach people must become aware of those they want to reach, discover their needs, and try to minister to those needs, if possible. They may not be interested in our needs.
Churches sometimes discover they are spending God’s money on tour buses for their own convenience and enjoyment when they could be providing high quality, free day care for children of minimum wage working mothers. The first may be a maintenance ministry to self; the other can be an outreach ministry to the lost and unchurched.
Evaluate the Ministry of the Church Outreach is directly related to ministry. Ministry to the people’s needs is more than just distributing food baskets and toys at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Such ministries often soothe the consciences of those doing the giving rather than meet the real needs of the recipients.
Evaluate the Ministry of the Church To reach new people in today’s world, the church must develop ministries that relate directly to their prospects’ needs.
The Bible records the many times Jesus tied the gospel to the ministries He performed- feeding the hungry, healing the sick, comforting the hurting, and teaching those who searched. His ministry got the attention of those involved. They then were ready to hear the gospel Jesus proclaimed.
Today’s church must decide whether to spend its resources on ministries directed toward the wants of the members or the needs of the unreached. The choice may not be an easy one. But it is crucial to the future effectiveness of the church.
These questions must be asked: Whom do we feed and why? Whom do we baby-sit and why? Whom do we transport and why? Whom do we visit and why? To whom do we witness and why? Where do we have Bible study and why?
Answers to these questions will help us discover if a church is ministering primarily to itself or to those outside the church who should be brought into saving relationships with Jesus Christ. we church should be reminded that Jesus never used His divine power to minister to Himself but to others.
A church can use its resources and energies in ministries to itself until it dies. Or it can minister to those outside itself to grow a new, renewed church.
Results of extended ministries to self abound. One can travel across the Mediterranean world today and see the remains of yesteryears’ churches that chose to minister to themselves until they died. Most of the ancient church buildings are archaeological attractions for today’s tourists.
Great hulks of church buildings stand empty or abandoned in the hearts of our great cities in the United States. They are monuments to those churches that turned inward. The church that wants to reach new people today must make difficult, deliberate decisions.
The church must become painfully aware of the multitude of lost people who surround most church buildings but never go inside those buildings. The church must discover the needs of those outside the church and develop ministries to meet those needs.
The church must begin planning deliberately to invest more money and energy in ministries to people outside the church than to people inside the church. The church must become less concerned with protecting its cherished traditions and more concerned with attracting lost, unchurched people.
The church must stop trying to preserve both its life and its life-style. Its life- style may cause it to lose its life. The church must begin to focus more intensely on Jesus’ mandate to lose its life for His sake and that of a lost world. We need lose only one generation, and our sumptuous church buildings will enjoy only peaceful silence.
Lost souls are of infinitely greater worth to our Lord than comforts, traditions, or temples. The Bible says that the angels rejoice when lost souls are saved! What better source of joy can today’s church seek?